Connecting Cambridgeshire’s proactive approach to ‘barrier busting’ is speeding up the rollout of gigabit-capable fibre broadband across the county, whilst generating measurable carbon savings.
The programme’s innovative ‘Dig Once’ policy was the first of its kind in the country to include fibre ducting in new transport infrastructure schemes and is now bringing measurable benefits for the economy, local communities, and the environment.
The creation of the ‘Fibre Ducting in Transport Schemes’ policy (to give it its official title – now referred to as ‘Dig Once’) was approved by Cambridgeshire County Council’s Economy & Environment Committee on 14 March 2019; when it was agreed that a policy would be written to include the design and delivery of fibre ducting in all infrastructure schemes going forward.
Fibre ducting is now also being made available on a commercial basis via a joint venture between the County Council and the University of Cambridge, making it quicker and easier for telecoms operators to extend gigabit-capable broadband networks and avoid costly, disruptive retrofitting. This means businesses and communities that are challenging to reach can get connected sooner.
To date (June 2023), over 21km of additional fibre ducting has been installed or is planned during the construction of new road and cycleway schemes by 2025.
Using the Highways England calculator, the policy is also estimated to have brought carbon savings of over 20 tonnes CO2 emissions over the last two year by using less materials – equivalent to the carbon emissions of nearly half a million miles driven by an average car.